Several films make their way on to Blu-ray and DVD this week. The best picks this week will include the reboot of “Dredd,” Tim Burton’s stop animation “Frankenweenie,” thriller “House at the End of the Street.”
Synopsis: The future America is an irradiated waste land. On its East Coast, running from Boston to Washington DC, lies Mega City One – a vast, violent metropolis where criminals rule the chaotic streets. The only force of order lies with the urban cops called “Judges” who possess the combined powers of judge, jury and instant executioner. Known and feared throughout the city, Dredd (Karl Urban) is the ultimate Judge, challenged with ridding the city of its latest scourge – a dangerous drug epidemic that has users of “Slo-Mo” experiencing reality at a fraction of its normal speed.
During a routine day on the job, Dredd is assigned to train and evaluate Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), a rookie with powerful psychic abilities thanks to a genetic mutation. A heinous crime calls them to a neighborhood where fellow Judges rarely dare to venture – a 200 story vertical slum controlled by prostitute turned drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) and her ruthless clan. When they capture one of the clan’s inner circle, Ma-Ma overtakes the compound’s control center and wages a dirty, vicious war against the Judges that proves she will stop at nothing to protect her empire. With the body count climbing and no way out, Dredd and Anderson must confront the odds and engage in the relentless battle for their survival.
Brief Review: “Dredd” is a better shoot-them-up action film than the original 1995 Sylvester Stallone “Judge Dredd” film. Karl Urban never took his mask off as he portrays Dredd more like the comic book character. And actress Lena Headey did even a superb job as vicious drug lord Ma-Ma. The special effects are amazing and the storyline will keep your attention throughout the movie. B+
Synopsis: From creative genius Tim Burton (“Alice in Wonderland,” The Nightmare Before Christmas”) comes “Frankenweenie,” a heartwarming tale about a boy and his dog. After unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, young Victor harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life—with just a few minor adjustments. He tries to hide his home-sewn creation, but when Sparky gets out, Victor’s fellow students, teachers and the entire town all learn that getting a new “leash on life” can be monstrous.
Brief Review: Director Tim Burton proves he still has some magic with stop-motion animation. By remaking his short film into a full animated film, he creates a lovable story about a boy and his dog in the theme of “Frankenstein.” It also serves a good tribute to classical horror movies with odd-ball characters. It’s a great addition for animation and Tim Burton fans. A-
House at the End of the Street
Synopsis: Seeking a fresh start, newly divorced Sarah (Oscar®-nominee Elisabeth Shue; Leaving Las Vegas, Piranha 3D) and her daughter Elissa (Oscar®-nominee Jennifer Lawrence; The Hunger Games, X-Men: First Class) find the house of their dreams in a small, upscale, rural town. But when startling and unexplainable events begin to happen, Sarah and Elissa learn the town is in the shadows of a chilling secret. Years earlier, in the house next door, a daughter killed her parents in their beds, and disappeared – leaving only a brother, Ryan (Max Thieriot, My Soul to Take), as the sole survivor. Against Sarah’s wishes, Elissa begins a relationship with the reclusive Ryan – and the closer they get, the deeper they’re all pulled into a mystery more dangerous than they ever imagined.
Brief Review: After “The Hunger Games” and “X-Men: First Class,” actress Jennifer Lawrence chose poorly with this boring thriller. The film lacks the scares to make it as a real thriller and it focuses too much on the relationship between Elissa (Lawrence) and the mysterious next door neighbor Ryan (Max Thieriot). The one saving grace for the film is the twist at the end of the movie that many people probably couldn’t guess. But, by that time, most people are already bored with the movie. D+
Also recommended this week:
The Inbetweeners Movie
Synopsis: This is the original Inbetweeners movie, the classic 2011 British coming-of-age comedy film based on the E4 sitcom, “The Inbetweeners.” The film follows the misadventures of a group of teenage friends on holiday in Crete after the end of their final year at school together, and currently serves as an ending to the classic UK series.
Brief Review: The Americans finally will see the movie that many British described as their version of “The Hangover.” The comedy is surprisingly funny, delightful and entertaining. No wonder why the Brits love their television series that spawned a remake on MTV last year. There are even rumors about a possible American version of this movie. B-
Also out on Blu-ray and DVD this week:
Hit & Run
Synopsis: HIT AND RUN is a comedy about a young couple (Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard) that risks it all when they leave their small town life and embark on a road trip that may lead them towards the opportunity of a lifetime. Their fast-paced road trip grows awkwardly complicated and hilarious when they are chased by a friend from the past (Bradley Cooper), a federal marshal (Tom Arnold) and a band of misfits.
Synopsis: A former thief frantically searches for his missing daughter, who has been kidnapped and locked in the trunk of a taxi.
Synopsis: Inspired by true events, COMPLIANCE tells the chilling story of just how far one might go to obey a figure of authority. On a particularly busy day at a suburban Ohio fast food joint, high-strung manager Sandra (Ann Dowd) receives a phone call from a police officer saying that an employee, a pretty young blonde named Becky (Dreama Walker), has stolen money from a customer. Convinced she’s only doing what’s right, Sandra commences the investigation, following step-by-step instructions from the officer at the other end of the line, no matter how invasive they become.
Synopsis: SAMSARA takes the form of a nonverbal, guided meditation that will transform viewers in countries around the world, as they are swept along a journey of the soul. Through powerful images pristinely photographed in 70mm and a dynamic music score, the film illuminates the links between humanity and the rest of the nature, showing how our life cycle mirrors the rhythm of the planet.
Samsara was filmed in almost 100 locations across 26 countries over the course of four years.
Smash TV Series (Season One)
Synopsis: Dream big.
There’s nothing more exciting than the opening night of a hit Broadway musical, except maybe what happens getting there. While Wicked and The Lion King pack audiences in on the Great White Way, Julia and Tom, a successful songwriting team played by Debra Messing and Christian Borle, begin work on a new musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe.
When a tenacious producer (Anjelica Huston) jumps aboard, so begins the difficult task of casting the silver screen icon. Ivy Lynn, a tough Broadway veteran, seems like the obvious choice. But enter Karen Cartwright (Katharine McPhee), a young girl from Iowa with a dream of making it on Broadway, who walks in and blows everyone away. So who will get the part and begin a journey that will change their lives? It’s an age-old story, but a star just might be born once again.
Archer TV Series (Season Three)
Synopsis: Suave master spy Sterling Archer and his double–crossing cohorts at ISIS take on global espionage and each other.
Dallas TV Series (Season One)
Synopsis: An all-new series based upon one of the most popular television dramas of all time, about the bitter rivalries and family power struggles within a Texas oil and cattle-ranching dynasty. Famous for its ratings-grabbing cliffhangers, the original series was known for its wealth, seduction, scandal and intrigues. Set in the big state of Texas, TNT’s new DALLAS — from Warner Horizon Television — also …lives life large and in the fast lane and brings a new generation of stars together with cast members from the original drama series.